There’s already such a spectacular, nauseating surplus of waste in our world, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to add more of it. But that’s just what Carly Fischer does.
The Australian artist crafts exquisite copies of refuse out of paper, creating fragile sculptures that take on the appearance of things like plastic Target bags and cans of Tecaté. Each item is an amazing study of borrowed form and mimicked texture. Fischer’s paper Red Bull can is crumpled just so, as if someone slammed the drink and gave its midsection a celebratory smash before tossing it onto the sidewalk. Her Walgreen’s bag is so convincingly crinkled, it’s hard to believe it’s not the real article.
In fact, if you saw it on the street, you’d probably think it was. But part of the impact of Fischer’s work comes from the place in which the re-creations are encountered–typically, in a gallery, with the trash scattered artfully (or completely unartfully?) across the floor.
For Fischer, it’s about challenging preconceived notions of space. The installations force us to reflect on the types of objects we expect to see in galleries–and what we don’t expect to see in them. And they make us consider how some things, like trash, have become such ubiquitous components of the urban landscape that we often don’t see them at all.
“I’m interested in this moment when people enter a space, where they first notice the objects as simply being typical to that space, but then start to realise the construction,” she says. “As reproductions, [the items] theatricalise the reality on which they are based and in so doing make us re-notice this reality.”
Fischer considers each installation site specific, not only in terms of the venue in which her work is being exhibited but also in terms of the city that surrounds it. “I approach the space almost archaeologically, scanning the streets for objects discarded, noticing how they have been left, photographing them, picking them up and taking them back to the studio to fabricate,” she says. She supplements this “hands-on street excavation” by researching contemporary perceptions of the city in question, investigating how those ideas might have manifested themselves in the city’s visual culture–and its refuse.
On one level, the work is impressive purely as papercraft. It can also be read as commentary on our needlessly wasteful society. But Fischer is happy so long as her meticulous models succeed in recalibrating our vision just a little bit, making us more aware of the environment around us. The sculptures are just art objects; the litter is the subject we’re meant to consider. “In some ways,” she says, “the paper models become props for noticing the final objects as the real trash on the street.”